Having started work in September 2018, Kumar told Sandeep Singh that the team has been able to solve around 2,500 cases in almost six months, taking the total number of resolutions to over 4,800 now.
Our experience is that almost 40-50 per cent of the cases are amenable to conciliation rather than going through formal hearing and passing an order. We sought permission of the state government for starting conciliation process and it has permitted us to start that process.
I feel that if someone is pre-decided that he has to take refund, then conciliation will not matter. However, in cases where people are looking for compensation and sorting out their issues, conciliation has a role. The process has just started and we have got 198 cases in a month. My expectation is that it will take about six months before people realise the efficacy and quickness of the conciliation forum and then it will take some load off. Within the process, once a customer approves that he wants to go through conciliation, the complaint is referred to the promoter and if he also agrees then we get the conciliator to take up the case.
While we have conducted some audits, we have been meeting the authorities and developers to understand their plan. I can say that we have been able to look at 132 projects in NCR and have discovered that almost 53,000 flats should be forthcoming by December 2019.
In cases where the promoters are not forthcoming and the project is in doldrums, last Wednesday, the Authority decided to issue showcause notice for de-registration under Section 7. Notices have gone to seven developers. However, this section states that the Authority can issue directions to see the projects are completed and so you need not finally go to the level of de-registration.
What if they don’t respond and don’t show any intention to complete?
If they don’t complete, then the Authority will get it completed. The process is that in consultation with the state government, the future course of action will be decided and the buyers association has the first right of refusal in getting together and completing. So, we will first offer it to them. There are a lot of projects that are stuck because of liquidity issues and in many cases they would be interested in pooling the balance funds and completing it.
Do you see more and more developers getting into this de-registered category?
I suspect that this number is going to be larger but because this is the first time we are attempting this de-register. This experience will benefit everyone as others could see it as a shape up kind of warning.
Do you see any revival?
I would say that 2018 was better than 2017 and 2019 will surely be better than last year. In Greater Noida (especially in the affordable housing segment), in cases where the developer is good and the project is either complete or near completion, there is good demand. In 2018, there was a 36 per cent increase in buying in Greater Noida. We expect that 2019 will see higher growth.
What other areas are you working on?
In the first year, we have taken up two issues. One is an exercise to grade the builders and projects and we are presently in the process of developing a methodology to do that and should be ready with that in a month. While the Act does not empower RERA to issue directives to any development authority, we have been looking to take up this issue. However, we have been thinking that if we can work out a window where everything is done on a single window basis (electronic based architecture) then everything gets listed. We have floated the RFPs for that so that in due course the single window system can be operationalised. These are two items we are working on.
In cases where people are directly approaching the NCLT, does it dilute your position?
Both these acts are new and whenever you have a new law, it takes a while to stabilise. But since these acts are new, presently we have to deal with the situation. Our personal view is that for projects that are registered with the RERA in any stage, new cases should be filed in RERA only. I think that if it’s primarily financial institutions that have moved IBC, they could consider taking the concerned RERA’s opinion and see if some resolution is possible.
I also think that the floor of Rs 1 lakh (for creditor to initiate insolvency proceeding) is very low and in the medium term we will have to look into the same.